What to See
Open Saturday and Sunday NOON – 4 PM
Volunteer docents are on hand for a guided tour beginning at 12:30 PM, 2 PM or 3 PM or you may self-guide.
1. VOA Bethany Station
2. Powel Crosley Jr. Exhibit
3. VOA US Coast Guard Courier Exhibit
4. Innovation 100-Years Timeline
5. All Ham Radio Room
6. Westchester Amateur Radio Association WC8VOA
7. Early Cincinnati Radio and TV
8. The Jack Gray Wireless Collection
The question of why the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station was constructed on a hilltop outside of Cincinnati can be answered in two and one-half words – Powel Crosley Jr.
When President Roosevelt began to plan for high power radio stations able to reach all parts of the world with information about the United States, he turned to Crosley and his corps of pioneering engineers to make it happen. Crosley had already constructed and operated WLW at 500,000 watts making it the most powerful in the world. He also operated WLWO, a high-power shortwave station, beaming programming to Europe.
The engineering team was up to the task and built from scratch six 250,000-watt transmitters and 27 antenna arrays capable of reaching millions of listeners in Europe, North and South Africa and South America.
The level of technology innovation that took place in this building beginning in 1943 is as groundbreaking as any now being accomplished in Silicon Valley.
When you first arrive don’t miss watching our award winning documentary video. It summarizes the history and importance of the Voice of America and, more specifically, the Bethany Relay Station, home of the Museum.
The six transmitters were connected to dozens of large antennas spread across a one square mile area. Some of the concrete tower bases can still be seen in the adjacent Butler County Metro Park located at the rear of the Museum. Many people remember seeing these towers as they drove on Interstate 75.
The facility once boasted six of the most powerful radio transmitters on earth. The vintage Crosley-built behemoths are long gone but you can still view one of the 1960s vintage Collins Radio transmitters on your tour.
Take a walk inside the transmitter.
You can still see up close the Antenna Switching Matrix at the rear of the museum building. These switches allowed the various antenna arrays to target broadcast to specific areas in Europe, North Africa, and South America. Be sure to walk out to see it up close when you visit.
The Crosley brothers were a powerful combination of ideas and how to implement. Powel Jr. was a prolific idea man, inventor and innovator. His interests went well beyond the radio. His brother Lewis was a brilliant engineer who could design and build Powel’s ideas. Together they manufactured not just radios but an extensive line of home appliances including the iconic Shelvador refrigerator and ranges, washing machines, and complete kitchen cabinet installations.
One of the hallmarks of Crosley’s appliance product line was the brother’s keen sensitivity to the consumer both pre and post-Depression. Powel pioneered the establishment of a network of independent local dealers as the best way to take his products to market. He insisted that these dealers provide the consumer with high-quality parts, service, and satisfaction. His products were often less expensive than other name brands but were backed by Crosley’s money-back guarantee. This became a precedent for some of today’s sales practices.
Learn about the no electricity refrigerator.
See up close many of the innovative Crosley products.
America’s first Sports Car (Hot Shot).
See how wireless technology evolved over time.
See Radio up close 1920 to 2020 (You may be surprised).
Learn why “Rocks” made Radio (No rocks – No electronics).
Early Collins Radio Ham Radio Station.
Early Marconi radio used in Nova Scotia.
Largest collection of RL Drake Ham Radio equipment.
Early radio from 1910 up to 2022.
Completely modernized ham shack. Wednesday 7-9 PM is open shack night. Licensed hams can stop in and operate and others interested in the hobby can learn about amateur radio.
Stay tuned! Stay tuned! Currently undergoing upgrading and remodeling.
Stay tuned! Currently undergoing upgrading and remodeling.
Made possible in part by a grant from the Charles H. Dater Foundation